Remote work- Fast-forward to the future
For 30 years of my agency life, it has been the general rule of thumb that a good creative agency had really nice, funky offices to work and for clients to visit. Sometimes even going as far to say that the environment made the agency. So with the current situation we find ourselves in, and working from home, the thought of not having an office for the team to work and collaborate in together had made me feel very nervous and almost like we were starting from scratch again. Anxious of how we would work together, worried of what the clients might say and if they’d walk for example.
March 7th 2020, we made the early move to situate our whole team from home and started our conversion from studio workers to home workers. Over the last 12 months of the pandemic it has been very stressful for all but with overuse of the dreaded but totally necessary Zoom/Teams calls, we’ve been able to see the whites of the eyes (most of the time), to collaborate and check in with each other when things have got a little hairy in places.
The clients have not stopped working with us, in fact, some have applauded our bravery of embracing the change as they have not seen any drop in service levels or quality of work.
In fact, (and keep this to yourself), we have seen productivity levels soar as flexibility in working structure (and of course being locked down) has allowed the team to log back in and just finish that piece of work which was niggling them so they are clear for the fresh mind the next day.
But that being said, as a business, we strongly believe in making sure everyone’s mental health is in good order which is why we are in talks with Happy Work (part of the Happy Days for Everyone Charity) to run some mindfulness and mental health awareness courses/workshops for myself and the team. We are also offering this out to our clients and wider network as we feel this is such an important part of a working relationship to stay fit and healthy. Watch this space on this news and if you would like to get involved please email us directly.
All in all, the shift to working from home has been a fairly liberating experience and one which has now gotten even more serious by us handing the keys to our office back. Eek I hear you say!! Actually, it has never felt greater. Suddenly, we are the masters of our domain and have the flexibility to work and live anywhere we wish. Alongside this, whenever a client does not want to meet at their offices, we choose one of many professional establishments to meet and have a truly engaging experience such as Soho Farmhouse for example. Or if in London, we can choose from one of the 7 Soho Houses there so life really is looking sweeter by the day!
One question we are now asking ourselves, “why didn’t we do this a long time ago?!”
To anyone who is contemplating this move, our advice is quite simple, get your IT in place, have a good central setup for collaborative working on documents and projects, make sure you offer your staff as much help in setting up a place they can work comfortably from home, check in with them all daily (and get the video cameras switched on!) This is as much about your mental health as an employer as it is for the employees after all.
Then look forward, embrace change, and enjoy the benefits.
But don’t take my word for it! Check out a few comments below from the team and clients.
“My past year has been spent on maternity leave so going back to work WFH will be a learning curve. I enjoy the flexibility of family life and exercising whilst being at home but am going to miss the daily banter and curious how creative collaboration will now be shaped.”
Grace, Lead Designer
“I don’t miss the journey to and from work, sitting in rush hour traffic and manoeuvring around parents’ cars as they drop their children off at school. Without it, I feel more refreshed to start my working day. I prefer to workout in the mornings so having the office at home allows me to do this before starting work and I also enjoy walking in my local park on my lunch breaks.”
“The upside is that I get to work in my loungewear. The downside is that my loungewear now feels too formal so I’m never truly lounging…
I definitely miss the office banter – regular 1-on-1 catch ups outside of the daily production meetings are a must! I definitely don’t miss the wasted time of commuting – having that time back to spend with family has been priceless.
The agency has proven that we can successfully work remotely during the pandemic and I’m intrigued and excited to see how we can continue to evolve the way we collaborate now that the world is starting to open up again.”
Jim, Senior Designer
“I was a hybrid studio worker before the pandemic which meant that I spent a couple of days working from home and a couple in the office each week. Even though I was already set up to work remotely I have found the transition to full-time home working difficult. The zoom calls and team bingo and quizzes were fun, but I have really missed face to face and the team and client hugs!
As things start to open back up, I am really looking forward to getting some balance back again and meeting up for some quality away days with clients both new and old. And who knows, maybe even a working holiday in Ibiza could be on the cards when we can travel again later this summer!”
Laura, Digital Strategist
“COVID-19 has had a massive impact on all of us, whether we know someone who has suffered from it or it has just changed our daily life. I have had mixtures of emotions regarding working from home. On one hand, I have missed the daily interaction and banter with everyone, however being on flexi-furlough and working from home has given me more time to work on my hobbies especially music and it has brought my family a lot closer together.”
Jasmine, Account Manager
“I love working with About Time at Soho Farmhouse. Peaceful, fantastic location with no distractions for strategy meetings – perfect for our requirements and planning going forward.”